Badin Town Council votes to prohibit feeding deer

The Badin Town Council took the first step at the Nov. 8 meeting to address the deer population in town.

By a 3-2 vote, the council passed a motion to have Town Manager Jay Almond to research and draft an ordinance prohibiting citizens from feeding deer. The council would have to approve the ordinance at a future meeting.

Councilman Larry Milano, Mayor pro tem Deloris Chambers and Mayor Anne Harwood voted for the motion. Council members Demar Huntley and Gary Lowder were against it.

The council also approved 5-0 to instruct Almond to research companies and costs for relocating the deer.

Public hearings about the deer issue were conducted by the council at the Oct. 11 and Nov. 8 meetings. At both, members of the community spoke for and against the suggested ordinance.

Regarding the prohibition of deer feeding, Milano said deer often eat 20 to 25 percent of their body weight, which for a 125-pound deer would be 25 pounds.

“I’ve watched them feed the deer on Pine Street…nobody is feeding them sufficient amounts of food to provide them any nutrition,” Milano said.

Milano said he counted 35 deer at the top of Pine Street, and one day’s worth of nutrition for that amount using the numbers he found came out to approximately 750 pounds of food.

He said property damage from deer is in the thousands of dollars, adding “we have deer that are not afraid of people, and that provides a safety issue. This council has an obligation to act.”

Milano referenced a study by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission which recommends not feeding deer. He said visitors to Morrow Mountain State Park are not permitted to feed animals.

Lowder said he believed the amount of deer in town are the real problem. He said the town is surrounded by hardwood forests and said “we are not living in the city of Charlotte, or even a bigger city.”

The council member added he was opposed to an ordinance because it “makes citizens criminals.”

Lowder also said the ordinance would not be enforceable, saying “one officer on duty can’t enforce most ordinances.”

Milano disagreed, saying an ordinance would not make people criminals.

“If somebody violates the ordinance, they’re doing that on their own and should be held responsible,” Milano said.

He added NCWRC studies suggest feeding the deer less and less so they will “adjust their browsing habits and find food in the woods.”

“We’re not going to get rid of all the deer, but by God, you can’t tell me that the number of deer haven’t increased exponentially in the past decade,” Milano said.

Lowder agreed with Milano on the increased population of deer but asked if Morrow Mountain or Alcoa are the reason for the increase. He noted Alcoa used to have active hunts.

Chambers said she did not feed the deer but has seen them in her backyard.

Huntley said the energy the board is using discussing not feeding the deer, and “putting the extra taxing on the police department to enforce the ordinance is not going to help with what we already have going on.

“I don’t know that we have as many people feeding the deer as we have discussed,” he said.

After the motion to draft the ordinance was passed and seconded, Lowder said, “I think it’s a big mistake.”

Almond said the town may consider a text amendment to existing animal control ordinances instead of “starting from scratch” on a new ordinance.